John Hammond Rumors
Since the purchase, Edens has served as the team’s governor — and therefore the official final word on all major decisions — but Lasry will take over the role in 2019. That dynamic has proved problematic, particularly after Hammond left the organization for Orlando this summer. At any random moment over the 40 months he worked for the current regime, Hammond was twisting, either on the verge of losing his job or having his contract extended. From the outset, ownership was conflicted about him. It admired Hammond’s affable manner and keen eye that plucked one overachieving pick after another in the draft. Yet as a basketball lifer who majored in scouting, Hammond didn’t project the image of the new-economy GM, “the guy who works 18 hours a day, speaks the hedge fund language and will cut your nuts off,” in the language of one league exec. Eventually, the latter condition outweighed the former in the eyes of ownership.
Look for Hammond to shuffle the deck now that he’s the new Magic GM. NBA officials said Hammond has been working the phones, trying to move point guard Elfrid Payton and veteran centers Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo. If Hammond is successful in moving Payton, it will likely impact the Magic’s draft plans. The consensus among NBA officials is the Magic will draft Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac with the sixth overall selection. However, if Payton is moved, the Magic may change plans at select North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith.
Orlando owns the sixth, 25th, 33rd and 35th picks in the draft and it is hopeful that it will emerge with one, if not multiple, difference-making pieces. It’s the Magic’s first draft with Weltman and Hammond calling the shots and they feel the franchise is in a good spot despite the time crunch they have been faced with of late. “In a typical year, all we’d do right now is listen, talk to teams, figure out what’s out there and discuss what our options are,’’ said Weltman, who was hired on May 22 and officially brought Hammond on board a day later. “By this time, in a typical year, everything (in the evaluation process) would be behind us, but since it’s a new group, we’re still watching video and comparing notes on players and putting in extra work. … We’ve been in the office late every night.
An Orlando Magic team under new management and one that could look drastically different over the coming months will make its Amway Center debut on Oct. 5. The Magic, who hired President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond last week, open their preseason on Oct. 2 in Memphis against the Grizzlies. Three nights later, the Magic will play in front of the Amway Center fans against the Dallas Mavericks.
A reporter asked Weltman why he hired Hammond. “Because he’s better than me,” Weltman answered. “What can I say? I’ve known John forever. I’ve worked with him. I’ve seen the guy. I can’t say enough good things about John Hammond. But I don’t want to gush about him because you guys will see for yourselves. And ultimately, we’re going to do a lot of talking here today, and then we’re going to walk out, and it’s up to us to prove it.”